FIRST SETTLERS 5, ROYALS 1
League championships don’t come around every year. They are to be cherished and appreciated, especially for a team that just may be the comeback story of the year in Suffolk County high school baseball.
One year after struggling through a disappointing 4-11 season, Southold turned things around dramatically this year, winning its 10th league championship and first since 2005.
One day after assuring themselves of a share of the League IX title, the First Settlers gained sole ownership of the crown via a 5-1 win over Port Jefferson on Thursday in Southold.
After relief pitcher Dylan Clausen struck out Sean Griffin for the final out, Southold coach Mike Carver, with his left fist clenched, said, “We did it.” Then he headed toward the field to join his players, who hugged each other before exchanging handshakes with the Royals.
With their eighth straight win, the First Settlers rose to 16-2, with two games left in their regular season.
Pat McFarland and Alex Poliwoda knocked in two runs each on doubles and Luke Hansen, supported by clean defense, brought his pitching record to 4-0.
The First Settlers charged out to a 4-0 lead by the third inning.
Shayne Johnson, who reached base on a throwing error in the first, made it 1-0 when he scored from first base on McFarland’s first double.
Most of Southold’s damage came in the third, though. Following singles by Hansen and Johnson, Poliwoda whacked a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field fence. Moments later, a groundout by Sean Moran allowed McFarland to cross home plate, making the score 4-0.
Both teams put up a run in the fourth. After Port Jefferson loaded the bases on singles by Neil Alvarez and Griffin and a walk by Noah Davis, Corey Carnahan drew a walk for the Royals’ only run. In the bottom half of the inning, doubles by Liam Walker and McFarland brought in Southold’s final run.
After throwing his 111th pitch with two outs in the sixth, Hansen was pulled for Clausen. Hansen had allowed seven hits, walked five and struck out five. In the second, Hansen was struck on the inside of his right thigh by a hard-hit drive by Kris Cheslock. Hansen kept his composure, collected the ball and threw to first base for the out. He was checked out by Carver and remained in the game. After the game, Hansen said he was alright.
The First Settlers, who expect to receive the No. 1 seed in the Suffolk Class C Tournament, can say the same.